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Will Freelancers Save Europe?

Germany's new chancellor is named Olaf, which is also the name of the snowman from Frozen. Where are we going with this? No clue, but this episode of all-things-Euro is packed with goodness, including France's going all-in on growing operations by gobbling up everything in sight, apparently.

What else? Rich companies in the EU are leveraging government policy to get cheap and free labor from poorer countries to join their ranks, while the EV business is set to dislodge some 500,000 auto workers from the European workforce, which makes re-skilling that much more important. Or maybe apprenticeships, powered by unicorn-in-training Multiverse, has the answers. Hard questions.

This calls for another round. Prost!


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Chad (0s):

Technology is great. Well, until it isn't. Anyway, we had a slight recording glitch, which zapped the first five minutes of Lievens audio. So we made audio lemons into lemonade by substituting sound effects for Lievens responses. God, I'm good. Enjoy

Chad & Cheese Does Europe INTRO (25s):

Some podcasts, do it for the fun. Some do it for the fame, Chad and Cheese they do it for global effin domination. That's why bringing America to its knees was just the beginning. Now they have their eyes set on conquering Europe and they've drafted industry veteran Lieven Van Nieuwenhuyze of Belgium to help them navigate the old country and bring HR's most dangerous podcast across the pond to trash-talk like never before. Not safe for work in any language. The Chad and Cheese podcast does Europe.

Joel (57s):

Oh yeah. European gas prices have surged to all time highs. And after this plate of wings, gasses, surging in me too. What is up vrienden? You're listening to the Chad and Cheese podcast does Europe. I'm your cohost Joel "Olaf" Cheeseman.

Chad (1m 14s):

And this is Chad "What do you mean I can't work from home?" Sowash

Lieven (1m 17s):

I'm still just Lieven Van Nieuwenhuyze.

Joel (1m 21s):

And on this episode, France gets freelancy, too many European Utes are jobless and EVs are about to slash half a million jobs on the continent. Apparently freelance in French is also freelance. Who knew? Let's do this.

sfx (1m 36s):

Europe has a bunch of countries in it.

Joel (1m 38s):

No mystery guests today. Who's got a shout out?

Chad (1m 42s):

Well, I've got a shout out right out of the gate, friends to Oras Al-Kubaisi you remember this cat?

Joel (1m 47s):

That's a name.

Chad (1m 47s):

He was over at He was actually on a firing squad a couple of months ago, but thanks Oras for digging up the following search metrics where we're seeing Google search term volume is exploding with the search term quote unquote "remote jobs." It surged 49% in the US, 71% in the UK, 71% in India, 60% in Canada, 31% in Australia (we'll talk about that in a minute) and 49% in South Africa. I'm sure the low 31% for Australia is because they just want to get the fuck out of lockdown.

Chad (2m 31s):

And they don't want to think about working from home. I don't know?

Joel (2m 35s):

That's right. Google is exploding and searching. You heard it here first on the Chad and Cheese podcast. So I got a shoutout for TikTok guys. So we know it's incredibly popular globally, but European operations are especially blown up. According to CNBC this week, the company's headcount in Europe, rose by over a thousand people last year, going from 208 in 2019 to 1294 in 2020. And that's undoubtedly going up as TikTok is now up to 1 billion active users. Pretty soon they'll have as many European employees as Facebook has PR people and lawyers here in the US.

Chad (3m 14s):

You got to ask what's the, you know, reason behind the surge, the staff surge in the EU. I mean, are they looking to try to gain favor? Because you know, obviously China doesn't have great favor with TikTok right now and Byte Dance.

Joel (3m 28s):

Yeah. Well, they obviously need salespeople to sell ads to agencies and speak the language if you will, of the countries. Now what's interesting is TikTok has what they call 996 culture, which is apparently really popular in China. What 996 means is you work nine to nine, six days a week. Which if I know Europe is, I know Europe 996 is not going to work very well. Lievin is that right? Is a nine to nine day for six days a week gonna work out in Europe?

sfx (4m 4s):


Joel (4m 4s):

No. So they got to make some culture changes there in Europe. If that's going to work?

Chad (4m 9s):

Shout out to Portugal, there was a New York times article that was entitled "In Portugal, There Is Virtually No One Left to Vaccinate", 85% fully Vaxxed, but 98% of all of those eligible in Portugal are vaccinated and the last Friday Portugal released all of their COVID restrictions.

Joel (4m 34s):

So do they not have Fox news in Portugal? What the fuck is going on, man, get Fox news out there.

Chad (4m 40s):

That's my question, is when does the rest of the world and the countries actually look at countries like Portugal with high VAX rates and say, Hey, they're fully vaccinated and they're getting back to normal. I mean, I was there for five weeks, the only thing we had to do is wear masks inside, but everything was, was fairly normal. Yeah.

Joel (4m 59s):

Yeah. People not dying should be a real good clue for following their example. We'll see.

Chad (5m 6s):

Fox news. yeah, yeah, yeah. I got another, another, another shout-out. So we talked on the last show. I think about Germany's election by which I thrashed our Europeans for not knowing shit about the German election. So you're an expert on it now. Right? Think about it. They have a new chancellor. His name is Olaf Schultz, which Olaf is a cartoon character in a Disney movie called Frozen. So that'll be easy for me to remember cause I have a four year old. The new chancellor apparently is a left of center candidate versus Angela Merkel, which was a right of center candidates.

Joel (5m 47s):

So I don't know if you have thoughts on that Lieven, but if Germany is the engine of Europe thing to give a shout out to, but I have no other insight other than they have a new chancellor named after a snowman from a Disney film.

Chad (6m 0s):

So you put him on the spot again? Seriously. I don't know if you have anything else Lieven, but Rica is listening so therefore let's go ahead and put you on the spot again. Let's talk about travel. Where are we going?

Joel (6m 17s):

We're going to Europe.

Chad (6m 18s):

So tell us, what are we going to be out there? What are we going to be doing Lieven? What is, who's going to be on stage? What are the big topics?

Lieven (6m 28s):

I get to promote my Congress again? Nice, nice. November 25th 2021, we have to HR Recruitment Congress, as I said, last edition of the show. It's in Ostend, Belgium. It's a whole day of recruitment technology, 12 breakout sessions. If you want to stay in the know then come to the Congress. REGISTER:

Joel (6m 46s):

It sounds like for the Muppet fans out there, we're, we're the two guys in the balcony, screaming, absurdities and sarcasm.

Chad (6m 52s):

And drinking.

Joel (6m 53s):

And drinking yes.

Chad (7m 6s):

And to Joel, that is very sexy.

Joel (7m 7s):

I mean, us, us in a rooftop bar, like that sounds sexy to me.

Chad (7m 12s):

Yeah. Pretty stoked though, to get back to Europe, I feel like it's been forever since I've been there,

Joel (7m 20s):

Dude, I was so pumped to go to Vegas for HR Tech and that got polled. So I like - a total tease and I'm not getting too excited about Europe because I'm afraid it's not going to happen, but I'm so pumped to get out and see people and humanize.

Chad (7m 35s):

No matter what leave and I'll be there. And if we have to have a blow up Cheeseman doll. We can make it happen. It's all good.

Joel (7m 50s):

Again, Don't say deep, fake pornographic Cheeseman cause that just might blow ups and caster or software. Yeah. Very excited for that. And if you can make it out there, please do so we'll be podcasting. So if you can't make it, we will have Chad and Cheese in your ear from Europe, no matter what. And with that,

sfx (8m 14s):

Shall we play a game?

Joel (8m 15s):

We talk a lot about Upwork and Fiverr on the show, but maybe it's about time to add to the list. The French based freelancing platform is in the process of closing a deal to merge with Swiss payroll company, Helvetic payroll group. The transaction is part of freelance.coms, continuing growth following the recent acquisitions. God, these guys are on a hiring spree. Co-workers TMC, France, and INOP already servicing the UK, France, Germany, Morocco, Switzerland, and Singapore. The company said its eyeing global growth while reiterating a target of achieving 1 billion euros in revenue by 2025.

Joel (8m 57s):

Okay. Boys with Upwork and Fiverr already a big deal and startups like Andela being a newly minted UNICORN this is a wave worth riding, right? Lieven talk about your point of view on the European freelance market.

Lieven (9m 11s):

It's big. I would first like to congratulate Freelance with their name. I mean I wonder if they bought it's really early or just paid a lot for it.

Chad (9m 22s):

They were founded in 1991. So I would say that probably bought it very early.

Lieven (9m 28s):

That's another reason to buy them.

Joel (9m 31s):

And like I said, freelance is freelance in French so it worked out.

Lieven (9m 34s):

Fantastic. That's a great name. And freelance is huge! And we just did a survey on the intentions of young people now. And apparently people who are young graduates now are 30%, at least are contemplating becoming a freelancer. So this is more than doubled in three years time. So the freelance market is going to boom and a recent study of Fiverr Scholtz. That's in the US I don't have the numbers for Europe, but in the US, the total freelance income is 750 billion. So even if your margins are extremely small and they are normally one you're payrolling and they bought a Swiss paid rent company, even with smaller margins on such an amount it's still huge.

Lieven (10m 18s):

So I guess the freelance marketing combination of payrolling, digital payrolling is a hit!

Chad (10m 24s):

It sounds like they're doing this incredibly smart from stand point of co-worker, coworkees. Co-workees, that's a horrible fucking name. That was a competitor that they merged with. TMC France, a training and managing from, for salespeople and sales managers, that's a big area of growth. And then INOP was a network of 70,000 digital experts and they had about 84 million Euro revenue in 2019. And then they want to build infrastructure for payments into their freelancers. Right? So I think, they're doing a ton of the right things to be able to provide a very full kind of like portfolio for freelancers.

Chad (11m 13s):


Joel (11m 14s):

You mentioned Chad, the 1991 founding, which I'm guessing they weren't an internet company back then. And they've obviously seen the wave sort of percolate over the last few decades. And now it seems like the time is right to try to build this thing. They're super tiny by Upwork and Fiverr standards. So just some metrics around this founded in '91, '92, they have about 200 employees and their market cap, they are a public company is around 300 million. Although they have aspirations to build that up to a $1 billion or 1 billion Euro company in just four years, Upwork and Fiverr right now are $6 billion market caps. So these are huge companies. These guys definitely have their work cut out for them, but the wave is the right time to ride and I think they're doing some of the right things.

Joel (12m 2s):

My question to Lieven is if freelance, isn't something that's sort of, you know, familiar to you in your own backyard. What are the gig platforms or the freelance platforms that are well-known in Europe?

Lieven (12m 16s):

It's once again, very fragmented. There's no such thing as a European Fiverr, we launched Gighouse ourselves, which is more, still a local company, but focusing on freelancers and each company probably has its own small platforms, but there isn't one jumping out. And so the of course it already has the name and it tells the ambitions, I guess. We'll have to see.

Chad (12m 40s):

Oh, you think that, I mean, just from a European standpoint, French love French companies, right? Is that the same for every other country that's there? I mean, if it's something that you see grow out of Europe, is there more of a likelihood that you're going to at least give it a chance versus an Upwork or, or Fiverr or any of the other gig platforms that are coming out of the US?

Lieven (13m 3s):

Well, the French probably are the most chauvinistic within Europe. So it's true French love French companies, French people love French companies. I don't think it's the same thing for the other countries, but sometimes even it's difficult to grow in your own country because it's harder to be taken seriously in our own company if it's American or if it's something else then it must be a good company,

Joel (13m 24s):

French love French companies, cause there are three of them, they're easy to keep track of. So I'm curious from an acquisition standpoint, Chad, we've talked on the show in recent history, Fiverr acquiring, Working Not Working.

Chad (13m 40s):


Joel (13m 40s):

And we also had Career Gig acquire Moonlighting. So I'm curious the potential for like a StepStone or someone in Europe to buy a freelancing platform, to take on, you know, the Upwork and Fiverrs and really gain a foothold in Europe. What are your thoughts on that Lieven?

Lieven (13m 54s):

They should have done it already I guess. You have LinkedIn who is going to take the markets, they're building a platform and very global spirit, global player. So I think companies like Fiverr have the advantage already. They are huge and everyone is using them. Same with Workplace. LinkedIn has the opportunity to launch something which is kind of different because they have this huge database. But for a new company it won't be easy. If you have a local approach, you know, the local people, you know, the local companies, the local candidates, and you can offer service. That's something the global companies probably won't be able to do. So there are two types.

Lieven (14m 35s):

You have the global approach offering one type for everyone. And they have those local companies offering everything like also the payrolling and finance, because all those legislations are different. And if you're working in Belgium or Germany, Texas will be different and you'll have to get different advice. And our company guesthouses focusing on the service, they're tying people to them just by offering service and that's something which will probably make it feasible to exist and to compete against companies like LinkedIn and Fiverr et cetera.,

Joel (15m 9s):

And I'm guessing some of the FED or the governmental legislation would keep an acquisition sort of stalled. Right? So as Italy and other countries think about, you know, is Uber an employee or are they a contract worker that, that might keep an acquisition from happening because of uncertainty with each country's legal system? Is that fair to say?

Lieven (15m 29s):

I don't know their thoughts, but it's certainly won't help.

Chad (15m 34s):

Yeah. But if you take a look at this, this can actually be a pretty awesome staffing play. If they're smart about it, staffing automatically is going to, let's say for instance, from a temp standpoint and, again more may need some more, you know, intel from Lieven on this, but here in the states, you take a look at temp staffing, this is a perfect opportunity to roll into that same kind of model. You're just doing it virtually, right. And they're being paid, not as FTEs. So depending on how you model this and again, staffing, especially in UK is much larger. I think more of a, a larger percentage than the in-house corporate recruiting in the UK.

Chad (16m 17s):

This might be an awesome model to roll out, but to do it under the guise of quote unquote "tech," but yet it's still under staffing.

Joel (16m 24s):

I mean the name alone, they have a fighting chance in America if they put money behind it. I think so to me, the name alone, the name alone is pretty good. I mean, a lot of people don't know Fiverr, Upwork. So I think there's still, I think, I think the market is still young enough that they could come in and spend enough money and get a solid brand in America.

Chad (16m 42s):

I don't know that they're big enough to actually spend a ton of cash in the U S they might be, they

Joel (16m 48s):

Are not big enough. They'd have to go raise money or do something.

Chad (16m 52s):

Well, no, I mean, if you think about it, if they become the platform, we've talked about this before. If they become the platform for staffing agencies, then they don't have to, it's all transaction-based. Right?

Joel (17m 4s):


Chad (17m 4s):

So it's all about the model. Where do they go? Do they try to go to the, the commercial model and then they have to spend shit tons of cash for people to know who they are, or do they partner with organizations who do not have the technical infrastructure and/or, you know, payment or whatever it might be to actually do their business in 2021, especially with all these people who see the promise of staying, working from home and being able to do it as a gigger.

Joel (17m 35s):


Chad (17m 35s):

That's where I see the opportunity versus Hey, is a great name. Fuck that. Look at the actual strategic wealth of getting behind some of these staffing companies who are decades behind in technical infrastructure.

Joel (17m 55s):

I say the name matters.

sfx (17m 59s):


Joel (17m 60s):

Let's take a quick break.

sfx (18m 1s):

Oh hell no.

Joel (18m 1s):

And we'll talk about utes.

sfx (18m 3s):

Europe a bunch of countries in it.

Joel (18m 4s):

All right, guys. Yeah. Have you seen that movie, Lieven?

Lieven (18m 7s):

Which one?

Joel (18m 7s):

My cousin Vinny, Joe Pesci

Lieven (18m 9s):

Taunting. So

Joel (18m 10s):

There's a movie with Joe Pesci, very famous movie in America, at least and Joe Pesci is a lawyer and he goes to court in the south and he says utes instead of youths. So anyway, so utes is sort of a nomenclature here in America and funny. So everyone's laughing, that's listening for sure. COVID-19 is Delta blow to Europe's young folks leaving many jobless and highlighting disparities. So now the EU is devising a new program called ALMA to help out of work youth, get job placements abroad, ALMA stands for Aim, Learn, Master and Achieve.

Lieven (18m 51s):

All in English.

Joel (18m 52s):

ALMA will target people, struggling to find a job, people living with disabilities, people with insufficient skills and those with a migration background. Participants will receive an allowance to cover travel, accommodation insurance and other basic costs during their time abroad. They'll get coaching before, during and after placements. An estimated 15 million euros, that's about $17 million, in EU funds will be allocated for ALMA, for its first year. Critics say this as a scheme for richer countries to access cheap or free labor. Boys, are you selling or buying ALMA?

Chad (19m 28s):

Well, hooray for Belgium, right? This is a great way to counter pretty much counter program against the UK right now, where the UK is being seen as isolationists and they're missing opportunity for great talent. So if I was in Europe and I saw the shit that was happening with Brexit and the UK, I would be doing the exact same thing. Now, having the conversation versus unpaid intern versus paid intern is I think important to broach as well.

Lieven (19m 55s):

I've got a big problem with the unpaid internship.

Chad (19m 58s):


Lieven (19m 58s):

Definitely. I mean, it's not like the companies aren't willing to pay. They definitely are willing to pay for talent, but if they are offered a way to not pay, they won't pay.

Chad (20m 9s):

Of course.

Lieven (20m 9s):

So I'm thinking it's a bit cheap from Europe to offer a way to, just to, to claim we're doing something nice for the, for the young people and we are not going to pay them, but it's a lot. It's a program.

Joel (20m 23s):

If you're an unemployed college graduate in Spain and you have an opportunity that's paid for, I mean, you may not get paid, but you have an allowance for food and shit like that. Would you rather have that, that open door and opportunity, or would you rather, you know, roll the dice in your home country to eventually get a job somewhere? For me, I'd prefer the opportunity to get my foot in the door somewhere, as opposed to sitting at home, hoping that someone calls for a job.

Lieven (20m 55s):

Yeah. But the problem isn't that big. I mean, back after the financial crisis, let's say 2017 in Greece, there was a 40% of unemployment with the youngsters, Spain, 38, Italy 34. I mean, today, it isn't that bad. It's already getting better.

Joel (21m 8s):

They're all over 20%, Italy, Greece and Spain are all over 20% for 25 and younger,

Lieven (21m 12s):

Which is still better than it was a few years ago. It's good that Europe is doing something, but I don't think this is the approach. And in my opinion, they should let the companies arrange it.

Chad (21m 26s):


Lieven (21m 26s):

They need to talent. Let them organize something to exchange notes and to say, Hey, Spanish people, we need you.

Joel (21m 36s):

How much of this is keeping peace in the EU. In other words, if I'm Germany, France, et cetera, I don't want Greece, Spain, Portugal, et cetera, revolting, right? And young people without jobs and no future tend to up rise more often than young people who are happy, employed or have purpose in life. So is any part of this, the government saying, we need to keep, we need to give these people hope and this is a program that can do that. And by the way, we're going to help our companies get cheaper, free labor as well. So everyone wins. The government keeps the peace. Young people get an opportunity and corporations get to get cheap labor. Is that, am I reading that right? Or no?

Lieven (22m 16s):

Today Western European countries are paying a lot to Europe to help companies like countries like Greece and Spain, to certain extent to overcome the economic problems they used to have, or they are still having. And now it's a way to offer them something back and they are arranging those young people to be able to work for them. And you don't have to pay them. Europe will arrange something. So it's a way of paying those rich companies, countries back. I don't really like the not paying internship thing.

Chad (22m 46s):

Offering unpaid internship says a lot about your company. And it says that you don't value the person's time and you don't believe they have bills, they need to eat, or they even need to sleep. Now I understand that, that obviously there isn't the, the huge influx of debt that we have over here in the US because, you know, kids have to, you know, they find themselves 40, 60, 100 thousand dollars in debt because of college. Although we're setting a bad precedent by saying, you know, you have no value because you are learning, not the case.

Lieven (23m 17s):

They say, we offer you an opportunity to get some experience because people, young people are mostly rejected because of a lack of experience. So those big companies say, we don't really need you, but we'll make room anyway, come over and we'll give you an opportunity for free to get experience, but it's just starting to things around it. Shouldn't be like that. They definitely need them.

Joel (23m 40s):

I have a probably dumb question Lieven, in America, let's say you're living in a state that doesn't have a lot of opportunity, right? It's really easy to get in a car and drive to a state and get, you know, get a living, you know, get a residence and like set up shop and look for a job in a state where there might be opportunity. Is it fair to say that European people don't have that same opportunity? Like if I'm in Portugal and I say, you know what, there's there, there aren't any jobs here. I'm going to drive to Germany and look for a job there is that easy? Or is that a really hard thing to?

Lieven (24m 19s):

There is just one difference and that's the language.

Joel (24m 21s):


Lieven (24m 21s):

Because within the European Union, you can travel across country, across boundaries, across whatever, without having to think about paperwork, you just can travel and you can work. You have the right to work in each country, in the European Union, the moment you're a European citizen,

Joel (24m 34s):

And I can buy a home there. I can rent an apartment. I can buy a car. Like nothing changes. As long as I stay in the EU?

Lieven (24m 41s):

Exactly. The only problem is if you go to France, you're supposed to be able to speak French in most cases. And that's someone from Portugal isn't going to be able to do.

Joel (24m 53s):

So I just wanted to enter a company called multi-verse got funded recently, and their concept is apprenticeship. So maybe apprenticeships are part of the solution. At least some investors certainly think so. So UK based, which matches job-seekers with apprenticeship opportunities has raised $130 million in a Series E round, bringing total funding to $194 million and a $745 million valuation. They'll probably be unicorn status soon. Through multi-verse apprentices, without a college degree can receive experience and hands-on learning. It's completely free for the apprentice who can earn around $25,000 in a US plus salary while learning on the job.

Joel (25m 37s):

So there are two rules of thought here, you have government intervention, and then you have private business trying to solve this problem. Do you have a horse that you'd bet on in that battle, or it can both work together to kind of solve this unemployment issue?

Lieven (25m 55s):

It's all about speed and the government hasn't got the best reputation for speeding up procedures and that's something companies can. I'm going to give a simple example in Belgium when there was a refugee from Afghanistan or Syria, when he was accepted as a refugee, then it took the government five years to give them their first job. So that's five years of living without. Yeah. Okay. And then there is a company, an NGO in Belgium Job Roads, and they said, we're going to take those people the moment they enter Belgium and are registered as a refugee. They're going to pick them up, and they are going to put them into companies?